Hoosick Falls, Tamarac to merge some sports programs


HOOSICK, N.Y. — Over the past week, both the Hoosick Falls and Brittonkill school districts have voted to go ahead with a merger for certain sports between Hoosick Falls and Tamarac.

Football will be the biggest sport and affect the most athletes, while the schools will also combine in track and field and cross-country. There are still some details for other sports to be worked out, including wrestling in the 2020-21 school year and boys and girls lacrosse in the spring.

"It's not completely official until the state approves it," said Hoosick Falls football coach Ron Jones. "But both boards have agreed to do it."

Both votes were unanimous. The agreement at the state level is only good for one year and needs to be approved every year after that.

"It gives us numbers again and we have the ability to hold kids accountable," Jones said.

The schools are 15.2 miles apart and 23 minutes.

"We worked hard at it last year to merge but it didn't come to fruition," Jones said. "We talked to people and very honestly said that we're going to be out of business if we don't move on [a merger]. We worked a lot with the superintendents and they put in a ton of effort because it's a lot of maneuvering."

According to Hoosick Falls athletic director Tom Husser, Bob Stulmaker, a long-time athletic director in Section II and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, will help mediate to help the schools get all its ducks in a row.

One of the myriad of issues to be worked out in the next few months is the name of the merged outfit.

They may keep either Panthers or Bengals, but more likely would do some type of combination, like Cats or Wildcats, with both being feline mascots.

"There's no plan yet on that, it's been discussed a little, but it's still early," Jones said.

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Another issue is travel for practices and where games would be played, but again, Jones said that it's still a ways off to figure what will happen.

"We might travel back and forth for one week at Hoosick Falls and the next at Tamarac, or have modified at one and JV and varsity at the other," Jones said.

None of the coaches in either school will be out of a job. They will remain on both sides, per their contracts.

For at least football, Jones said that he has been in contact with Tamarac coach Erick Roadcap and both are on the same page.

"He's good with numbers right now, but we're looking down the road and getting ahead of the curve," Jones said. "I think we'll have about 19 to 24 Hoosick kids and he'll have about 30 kids, which combined puts us where we were a few years ago."

Roadcap said he thinks the merger will be a great thing for the younger kids playing football.

"Small school football is struggling," said Roadcap, whose team played in Class C this season. "JV kids don't get a lot of preparation during the season, they are helping the varsity as scout team players to get ready for Friday night's game. Now they'll actually be able to learn the system and not get thrown into the fire right away."

Roadcap also cited the safety of the players as a good reason for the merger.

"You really can't throw a freshman out there against juniors and seniors," Roadcap said. "From a program standpoint, it will give the kids more coaching about their own [offense and defense] and give the kids an opportunity to be more competitive."

In football, Hoosick Falls went 3-6 this season, while Tamarac went 5-3 after reaching the Class C semifinal for the first time in more than three decades.

"I think it's a tribute to both schools for realizing what the future could be," Husser said. "You don't want to be the last school standing. It's all a win-win in my opinion."


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